Centre for Internet & Society

A car was put up for sale on a Facebook (FB) page by a woman. The first few comments were genuine questions asking about the price and the woman was asked to check her inbox, where price negotiations were carried out.

The article by Marianne De Nazareth published in the Citizen on March 31, 2015 quotes Rohini Lakshané.

All in a very cordial fashion. Suddenly in a matter of seconds a nasty gender remark was made, as the car was being sold by a lady, which was taken up by a flurry of similar trolls making snide remarks on her gender and therefore the quality of the car for sale. The woman felt harassed and violated.

These faceless nasty internet beings are called trolls and we need to fight them. " Most people shy away from confronting harassment because either they are mostly unaware of how to handle it or they are scared of the harassment shifting to their daily lives in real world. The scare is not unfounded because there have been several instances of that happening around the world," says Chinmayi SK from the Bachchao project .

" A certain type of troll reacts strongly and negatively to high profile women out of a desire to correct those who have been 'taken in' by them," says Pamela Srinivasan, who uses social media frequently to buy and sell." It's an attack on the idea that the women can be powerful and can be experts. The attack is designed to remove the woman's authority."

Chinmayi advises," But, one needs to talk about online harassment because it exists. Because not talking about will not make it go away. Online harassers are like bullies enabled by the anonymity online personas provide. They are unafraid of consequences in the virtual world, which they would otherwise fear in real world. Hence changes will not happen unless you stand up to them. They will continue to harass and their harassment will only grow with time if ignored."

FB sites where people with common interests like gardening or birding or even Cuckoo clock lovers are happily free of trolls. But sites on which commercial selling of used goods happens, or discussions on touchy political topics, that's where people are viciously attacked if the administrator is not vigilant.

" It is best to have a code of conduct laid down and strictly enforced by the moderators of online communities," says Rohini Lakshané, a researcher at the Centre for Internet and Society. " Large online forums can have many, active administrators to whom users can report abuse. It also helps to report abuse to the website/ platform. However, on platforms such as Facebook, where the volume of posts is high, the review process takes time and sometimes reviewers don't understand the nuances of culture or language or other contexts. An effective, easy-to-implement, and less time-consuming measure then is for the community to police itself and smack those who walk out of line."

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